5*4*3 (except after C) (2013)  |  William Bradbury (b. 1956)

5*4*3 (except after C) was written for and dedicated to the PEN Trio by composer William Bradbury.  It was premiered at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on October 3, 2013 and has subsequently been published in the PEN Trio Collection and is available through TrevCo-Varner Music.


Program Notes by Composer William Bradbury:

I was lucky enough to study gamelan for several years with Indonesian master musician Sumarsam while I was in graduate school. As a composer I was intrigued with the exciting pentatonic (five note) compositions in that tradition. A number of years ago I wrote a piece for flute, piano and bass entitled 5•4•3 (five notes for three players) that used only five pitches; I found it to be an interesting compositional challenge. In writing this new piece for the PEN Trio, I revisited the idea and began composing with a different set of five notes (the pentatonic scale is presented at the beginning and end of the piece and in used extensively throughout). As the composition unfolded, however, I felt somewhat limited by this constraint so I added a new "rule"; I would compose strictly pentatonic music with the caveat that I could insert the note C (which is not in the original scale) when it felt right. After any C the piece could go wherever it needed and use the full chromatic scale for a time. Then it returns to the pentatonic music... Hence the name 5•4•3 (except after C). The work is in several sections, with a middle section in C minor. Nearly all the rest is pentatonic music (with a few brief forays into chromatic territory). Many thanks to the wonderful musicians in the PEN Trio for commissioning and premiering this piece.

[Pictured L to R: Eric Varner, William Bradbury and Nora Lewis]

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